MOORE COLUMN 326

“You’re 24 years old. You really need to find a primary care doctor,” my wife said.

“But there’s nothing wrong with me,” I responded. “Why go get something I don’t need?”

“You will one day,” she answered. “You need to establish a relationship with a single doctor who can take care of you for the rest of your life.”

It was the 1980s, and I was working, going to college and raising a family. Her request just seemed like one more thing to add to my plate when time was in short supply.

To get her off my back, I began to ask my co-workers at the radio station who would be a good doctor to use. Since most of my fellow employees were also young, they had no idea.

But Mary, an older lady who worked in sales, and had been married to someone in the medical profession, overheard me talking.

“Find someone close to your age,” she said. “That way, they won’t die or retire on you.”

She also pointed out that there was a fairly new clinic right behind the radio station.

Armed with the one piece of advice I could gather, I walked out the back door, across a grassy lot, and through the front door of the clinic.

“Can I help you?” said the receptionist.

“Yes, ma’am. My wife insists that I find a primary care doctor,” I stated. “Do you have one who’s taking new patients?”

“Dr. Smith is accepting new patients,” was her response.

“How old is he?” I asked.

A little puzzled, she gave me an age range, but didn’t commit to an exact number.

Since he appeared to be just a few years older than me, I said, “I’ll take him.”

As if I were adopting a puppy.

And so began a relationship unlike any other I would ever have.

I told him things I’ve told no one else, and I trusted him to keep these most intimate discussions between the two of us.

Years passed.

I went from simple annual checkups to suddenly having small medical issues.

“Your blood pressure is staying elevated,” he said one day. “With your family history, I’m putting you on medication.”

I was dumbstruck.

“Uh, I’m only 27 and weigh 145. How can I have high blood pressure?” I asked.

“Genetics,” he said.

More years went by. More medical issues popped up. But because he knew everything about my family medical history, my recurring minor maladies, and me, he always knew what to do to make me well.

Sometimes with just a phone call.

He was there for me when I lost family members and fought sadness and then when I required heart care.

“How can I need heart care?” I asked. “I’m only 52.”

“Genetics,” he answered.

In a lifetime of people I’d known, many, if not most, had come and gone. But my doctor was always a phone call or online message away from solving my medical problems.

That is until recently.

A letter arrived in the mail. My doctor thanked me for trusting him with my care for the last 35 years, but he was retiring.

I stared at the page.

“Find someone close to your age,” she said. “That way, they won’t die or retire on you.”

He hadn’t died. But I felt a loss akin to it.

I looked back at the letter for his last day. It turned out that it was the day after my final appointment with him.

It wasn’t scheduled to fall that way, it just did. My appointment had been on the books since before he decided to hang up his stethoscope.

It pained me to think about it. I felt a true loss. I didn’t want to have to start over with someone else.

But that’s being selfish.

I thought of the time he came before daylight to check on me when I was in the hospital. Then he saw a day full of patients at his clinic.

I recalled the Christmas Eve when he was on vacation, but called me because my gall bladder needed to come out.

I thought of all the other patients for whom he’d sacrificed his time and his family’s time, just to make sure we were OK.

I’m grateful to him for everything.

He is still a young man. I’m glad he decided to retire. He’s earned it.

I pray that he lives a long time and does things that bring him joy.

He told me at my last appointment how long his father had lived. It was a long time.

I’m no doctor, but it appears that genetics is on his side.

To send John a message, buy his books, “Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2,” or to listen to his weekly John G. Moore 5-Minute Podcast, visit his website at www.TheCountryWriter.com.

 
 

— John Moore is a Whitehouse resident. Email him at John@TheCountryWriter.com. To buy his book, “Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2,” or to listen to his weekly John G. Moore 5-Minute Podcast, visit www.TheCountryWriter.com.